Blue Jackets See Bump In Season-Ticket Sales, But Attendance Down Slightly
The Blue Jackets enter play Friday tied for seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but they are 29th in the NHL "in attendance, drawing 14,347 per game to Nationwide Arena," according to a front-page piece by Aaron Portzline of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. The team has filled the 18,144-seat arena "only four times in 36 games this season," and while Friday night's game against the Penguins "probably will be sellout No. 5," that is largely due to the "thousands of black-and-gold-clad Penguins fans in the stands." Only the Coyotes with an average crowd of 13,585 "are drawing fewer fans" than the Blue Jackets. Although the team has seen a 23% "bump in season-ticket sales over the past year -- from fewer than 7,000 season-ticket equivalents early last season to 8,600 as of this week -- attendance actually has dipped from last season’s 14,564 average." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league’s decision to award the '15 NHL All-Star Game to Nationwide Arena "is a sign that the league remains steadfast in its belief that Columbus is a sound market." Portzline reports the Blue Jackets "don’t appear overly concerned, either." Early this season, there were some "thin crowds: eight games with fewer than 12,000 fans, including two with fewer than 10,000." But the team is "raising season-ticket prices in almost every section of the building for next season." Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson said, "I know we have work to do, but I know these fans. I’ve been able to meet some of them. They’re great fans. We just have to earn their trust back" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/28).